NH DHHS - Annual Rankings Show Where State Counties Do Well and Opportunities for Improvement

Concord, NH – Rockingham County is now the healthiest county in New

Hampshire, displacing Merrimack County as last year’s healthiest, according

to the third annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert

Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population

Health Institute (UWPHI). Grafton County has taken second after Rockingham

this year. According to the Rankings, residents of Coos County have almost

twice the rate of premature deaths and three times the rate of children

living in poverty as residents of Rockingham County.

The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot

of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each

county’s overall health ranking. Researchers used five measures to assess

the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for New Hampshire by

county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percentage of people

who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report

being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of

low birth weight infants.

The Rankings also consider factors that affect people’s health within four

categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors,

and physical environment. Among the many health factors they look at: rates

of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and

teenage births; the number of uninsured under age 65, availability of

primary care physicians, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high

school graduation, adults who have attended some college, children in

poverty; community safety; limited access to healthy foods; rates of

physical inactivity; and air pollution levels.

The County Health Rankings rank the overall health of nearly every county

in all 50 states. They Rankings allow counties to see how they compare to

other counties within each State based on a range of factors that influence

health including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family

and social support. This year’s Rankings include new measures, such as how

many dentists are in a community per resident.

“This report unfortunately confirms that the health of the residents of

Coos and Sullivan Counties lags behind the rest of the State,” said New

Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health

Director Dr. José Montero. “There is room for improvement in Strafford,

Belknap, and Carroll Counties as well. We plan to use this and other data

we have collected to work toward change in these markers of health for all

the citizens of New Hampshire.”

This report is complementary to the New Hampshire State Health Profile the

Division of Public Health Services released two years ago. Last year DPHS

also released the 2011 Snapshot of New Hampshire’s Public Health Regions,

Counties, and the Cities of Manchester and Nashua. This snapshot, a

companion document to the 2011 New Hampshire State Health Profile, is meant

to assist community leaders and to identify priority health issues in their

communities. The 2011 Snapshot also confirms that Coos County fares worse

than the State in areas such as obesity, binge drinking, teen birth rates,

and access to primary care providers.

To view the entire 2011 New Hampshire State Profile, go to

www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/documents/2011statehealthprofile.pdf . The Snapshot

Report is available online at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/index.htm#regprof . For

more information about the Division of Public Health Services visit the

DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov .